The Next Big Thing! The Fate of The Faithful: Book Three of Mechanized Wizardry
There’s a long chain of author/bloggers supporting each other with a series called “The Next Big Thing,” which is a vehicle to talk up your current (destined for blockbuster best-sellerdom) work in progress.
I’m grateful to have been included in the chain by Scott J. Robinson, author of the upcoming book Shadow of the Dragon (Fantasy). Cheers, Scott!
1) What is the working title of your next book?
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I initially got the idea for the Mechanized Wizardry series while I was out on gigs for my last job, doing plays in elementary schools. What would it look like if a character discovered how to program computers to cast magic spells? What would a world look like with enough technology to make programming possible, but enough fantasy to make magic a part of the picture too?
I was inspired by David Weber, whose Honor Harrington space operas have battle scenes that are incredibly exciting despite having really ponderous mechanics. It takes forever for ships to get into position, and their missile launches have this terrifically suspenseful inevitability to them. It’s not the light-speed tactical dogfighting you see in so many SF novels, and it’s more interesting for it.
I wanted to create a magical system that would bring the same suspenseful energy to a fantasy world. Usually, magic-users just make a gesture or say a magic word and fire bursts effortlessly from their fingertips. They have training, or innate ability, or know words of power, and once acquired the magic almost always serves them instantly the way they want.
Instead, I devised a world where magic works, and is powerful, but spells take hours to cast and need to be extremely specific to function the way you want them to. In this world, wizards are fallible, unreliable, and not very respectable; and idea of a clockwork sorceror whose spells always succeed is a game-changer.
Anyway, the idea came to me as I was consciously trying to think of a fantasy ‘hook’ that I hadn’t seen before. Whether it’s really original or not, I’ve been having a blast writing the series, and there’s lots more to come.
That’s a long-winded answer before getting into the question of where the idea came for this book. I knew that I wanted to get the main Petronaut characters– Lundin, Samanthi, Sir Mathias, and Sir Kelley– back together for this book, after they’d been separated in Book Two, The Mask And The Master. I knew I wanted to have them travel outside Delia to other parts of the Anthic Thrust that readers hadn’t seen yet. I knew I wanted the upcoming conflict between Delia and its enemies to escalate. And I knew that I wanted Lundin and the Petronauts to learn more about how magic works.
Knowing all those elements, I wrote an outline, and now I’m finally getting around to turning that outline into 80,000+ words! (slowly.)
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Steampunk— or, slightly more accurately dieselpunk, since the high technology is powered by Petrolatum and there are as 20th-century elements (punchcard computers, chainsaws, tanks, flying platforms) in the world.
But I think a more understandable description is “Off-beat Fantasy.” For me, that captures what I was going for more than anything else; the combination of an unusual hook, atypical and three-dimensional characters, humor, and straightforward swords-and-sorcery adventure.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Ha! Lee Pace as Horace Lundin. Andrea Anders as Samanthi Elena. Daniel Craig for Sir Kelley. Javier Bardem for Sir Mathias, maybe? A bleached-blond Jason Segel could be Willl with three L’s, though he’s a little too big.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An arcane arms race escalates between Delia and its enemies as Horace Lundin and the Petronauts go on the hunt for the building blocks of magic.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published! I want this book to get into circulation on my timeline, and I want writing to be my full-time income stream within the next decade. I don’t see either of those things happening the way I want with the glacial pace and low royalties that come from the traditional model.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I just began the first draft in November, so I won’t be finished until well into 2013.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Libriomancer by Jim Hines is also what I’d call off-beat fantasy. It also takes a look at magic in an unusual way, and combines interesting characters, action, and humor.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My readers and my family are inspiring me to keep building the series, so it’s because of them that I’m continuing on to a third book. The successful self-published authors I follow, like J.A. Konrath, Lindsay Buroker, Nathan Lowell and Michael Sullivan have also convinced me that sticking to a series is the right path.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Something really serious is going to happen to one of the characters you love most.
Hooray Next Big Thing!
Before I started on this, for fun, I tried searching back to find out who did the first Next Big Thing. The chain of links got too labyrinthine and it made my eyes cross. I did find the following talented writers, with their upcoming books* and preferred genres:
*These are the current titles for said works, subject to change whenever authors change their minds or are plagued by doubts. In other words, AT ANY SECOND
Anybody reading this know who started the crazy chain?